One of the attendees, Simon I think, on my Code Club Pro training day was a teacher and he explained something to me that seems obvious but really got me thinking about how I help my Code Club kids when they have a problem. He said that whenever kids get stuck in class they immediately put their hand up and ask for the teacher to come and solve the problem for them. The same thing happens in Code Club of course but if we go over and debug their code so that it works what have we taught them about debugging?
One way to debug code is to try explaining it out loud to a rubber duck. It doesn’t have to be a rubber duck of course – it could be anything. The key is to explain out loud how the code works. Often when I’m trying to debug a knotty problem I call my wife over and explain it to her and in the process I end up realising what I’ve done wrong. She rarely has to even listen to what I’m saying but she’s kind enough to pretend. 🙂 So I think this idea combined with a proper stand-up teaching session near the start of term that explains to the kids about debugging and dry-running code in your head should help a lot with the volume of questions I have to attend to.
How about you? Are you deluged with questions from the beginning of a your Code Club sessions to the end? Do your kids solve problems for themselves? Isn’t that exactly what Code Club is trying to teach them?